Fight back seals win and standing ovation
The Dave Hoole and Shaun Harrad magic show rolls on as Matlock overcame Rushall Olympic 2-1 on Tuesday night.
It was another excellent performance that cheered the Gladiators faithful and brought more reward with another three points in the bag.
Even after the shock of falling behind in the opening minute, Matlock’s principles remained the same against a tough and sometimes cynical Pics side. Pass and move are familiar dishes on Hoole and Harrad’s menu as the Gladiators were again dominant.
Their pressure eventually brought dividends with Michael Williams’ 64th minute equaliser and was followed by substitute Chris Ondong-Mba netting an 84th minute decider.
After a post match congratulatory huddle in the centre circle, Matlock came off to a greatly deserved standing ovation from the home crowd, once again entertained in abundance and also delighted with another win.
Hoole and Harrad are now unbeaten in five matches now having notched four successive victories. This was probably the most impressive display and result in that sequence against a Rushall side who had won seven of their previous eight contests. It would have been easy for the hosts to fold after that very early setback.
Midfielder Mathis Fonovic looked to have given the Pics the springboard to extend their impressive recent record. Winning a crunching tackle against Kieran Wallace 30 yards out he hoisted a spectacular dipping lofted effort over Richard Walton which fell perfectly into the net with pin point precision. If he meant it then it was a brilliant piece of opportunism.
But Matlock presently have plenty of spirit to go with their flair.
Harry Limb and Wallace both drove too high before a flowing move involving Joe Doyle-Charles and Williams ended with Ted Cribley’s low cross to the far post finding Ricky German whose shot was expertly blocked by rookie Rushall custodian Bobby Biddle.
Fonovic was the first of five Pics bookings, the others being dished out at regular intervals to Macy Milan-Butterfield, Joe Hull, Bradley Maslon-Jones and skipper Sam Whittall, with Williams being the only man in blue to see a yellow card for time wasting deep into stoppage time.
After Wallace’s shot was blocked, Williams drove wide from distance before the visitors had a 29th-minute escape when Biddle miskicked but recovered quickly enough to block Limb’s shot.
Another teasing low centre from the right by Williams eluded everyone before German turned neatly to see the overworked Pics defence make another block as the interval arrived. The half time score was a false reflection of the play but Matlock were out early for the resumption, Limb improvising with an overhead strike which dropped narrowly past Biddle’s right hand post inside the opening minute.
Then Wallace powered a near post header wide from a Williams corner on the left. The barrage on the Rushall goal continued with Biddle again denying German who had been found by Jake Green’s measured cross before Williams netted for the third game on the trot with a wonderful downward header from a right wing centre by Jake Phillips. Biddle atoned for a sliced clearance to German by a last ditch interception with his legs outside of the penalty box as Matlock looked to turn one point into three.
Walton was equal to a tricky shot from distance by Ricky Waldron which reared up alarmingly but the hosts poured forward again with the winner coming from an unlikely source.
Frenchman Ondong-Mba had only been on the field for five minutes, keeping his balance superbly as he brushed aside the challenges of Josh Webb and Hull to fire low narrowly inside the post for a thoroughly deserved lead and victory.
Walton was down quickly to grab an attempt from distance by Lewis Archer deep into stoppage time. Had that gone in, it would have been robbery as far as Matlock were concerned.
Justice had been done although Rushall could be relieved their margin of defeat was not more emphatic for they had been outplayed.
Matlock: Walton, PPhillips, Green, Doyle-Charles (Jackson 61), Yates, Wiley, Wallace, Williams, German (Ondong-Mba 79), Cribley, Limb (Morrison). Subs not used: Wood, Kabeya.
Referee: Lee Freeman (Sheffield). Attendance: 242.